David Paterson & Political History - A Response To Kornacki
The usually perceptive Steve Kornacki of the NY Observer has already written off Governor David Paterson’s chances of getting re-elected.
Part of Kornacki’s argument is based on the history of 3 other Lt. Governors who became Governors. Kornacki writes –
A quick review of past polling finds that just three sitting governors in the last three decades have faced intra-party deficits as severe as Paterson's: Four months before the 1982 Massachusetts Democratic primary, Governor Ed King trailed former Governor Michael Dukakis (beaten by King in the ‘1978 primary) 68 to 20 percent; in March 2002, six months before the Massachusetts G.O.P. primary, acting Governor Jane Swift was 63 points behind Mitt Romney, 75 to 12 percent; and a year before the 2006 Nebraska Republican primary, acting Governor Dave Heineman was 40 points behind Tom Osborne.
Of those three, only one, Mr. Heineman, ended up surviving. But that was because, unlike Mr. Paterson, he brilliantly capitalized on his accidental incumbency, gaining ground against Mr. Osborne every month, until Republicans finally asked, "Why change?"
However by reporting only the poll numbers rather than the actual Primary results, Kornacki makes Paterson’s chances for next year seem much worse than he could have if he wanted to make the case that the Governor did have a chance.
For example, while it’s true that Dukakis did beat King, the margin wasn’t the 48 points in the poll cited but was by only 7 points. King gained 41 points in 4 months!
In Nebraska, Heineman beat Osborne by 4 points. Which means he picked up 44 points in a year!
With Swift and Romney, we’ll never know how much of the 63 point lead she might have overcome since she dropped out the race.
In other words, Kornacki’s historic argument as to why Paterson cannot overcome a 49 point margin in the polls 16 months before the 2010 Democratic Primary is based on a candidate who picked up 41 points in 4 months, another picking up 44 points in 12 months and a third candidate not running.
Look, I’m not saying David Paterson is in great shape politically. He’s not. He could easily lose. But after seeing countless candidates overcoming supposedly insurmountable deficits in polls to win, I’m not ready to write anyone off.
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